Do I need to settle my water bill dispute their multiple errors?

in Water Bills
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HayDen2016HayDen2016 Forumite
2 Posts
First Post
Newbie
Hi,
So I’ve had a very loooong drawn out bad experience with Southern water. The last person I spoke to though was amazing and I finally understand what has happened.
We have ended up in £400+ debt to Southern water and this is why..

In August 2019 THEY reduced our water bill from £36.80 to £12.70. (They have admitted now that it was a system error) I didn’t question it as I thought I remembered seeing a letter that said they were having to repay money back due to a fine/error of some sort.

I’ve since then spoken to them and it has never been questioned by them despite them looking at my account.

I then didn’t receive a bill for the period of July 2019 til March 2021. That’s 21 months without a bill, when I was meant to be receiving them 6monthly.
Even then it was still not flagged up or our direct debit altered, despite their system showing me as being in Debit by quite a bit.

They then didn’t send my March 2021-August 2021 bill until November 2021, shortly followed by my August 2021-December 2021 bill in December, when they THEN decided to tell me by post that my direct debit was going from £12.70 up to £50+ a month. Why on earth was this not flagged at the initial 21month long bill?!?

During this time we had a water leak on our meter. (With no end of errors on their part and LOTS of communication, ME calling THEM) and yet still there was no talk of there being an issue with the direct debit amount. This was drawn out for over a year.

I’ve had to contact them countless times to chase up results from them and was being led to believe that the increase was probably due the leak, despite them having access to my account. Just yesterday though I was explained to by, the lady who made sense of it all, that in actual fact I should never of been reduced down to £12.70 as we use roughly £36 of water a month. It should of been spotted a looong time before now, considering I’ve spoken to so many SW employees. The leak hasn’t affected our side of the meter so doesn’t affect our bill. And she’s absolutely baffled as to why we hadn’t received a bill within the 21month period as we should of received 3 in that time. 

They have offered to knock £100 off of our debt for the error and to give us a payment plan, but my question is, should I have to pay all of the debt, considering they didn’t give me a bill for 21months when I should of received 3 within that period, plus their system is the one at fault (and their staff who I spoke to there after, who didn’t spot the error) which has now put me into this predicament?
My husband and I remember vaguely Martin saying something about not having to pay a debt if the bill has been sent after a year and you’ve been paying the requested amounts?

I have a husband who is suffering stage 4 cancer and an 8year old child to also look after. I know some may disagree but I get sent bills, I trust the companies that their figures are right and pay them to keep us ticking along and up to date. We really do have enough to worry about, as do so many others.


Replies

  • edited 23 February at 8:48PM
    elsienelsien Forumite
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    edited 23 February at 8:48PM
    I think the back billing write offs you are referring to apply to energy companies rather than water. 

    Whilst appreciating everything you’ve got going on, it is down to you as well to spot mistakes and chase them up. Moving forwards you should be checking all your bills. 

    You could try negotiating a larger amount being knocked off the bill? Have you gone through their formal complaints procedure? If not, that might be your next step. 
    All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

    Pedant alert - it's could have, not could of.
  • HayDen2016HayDen2016 Forumite
    2 Posts
    First Post
    Newbie
    Hi,
    Thank you for your reply. My biggest regret is not understanding the bill system better and keeping an eye on it. I too readily trusted that my direct debit would be adjusted accordingly. I’ve learnt my lesson and will be keeping a closer eye on my bills from now on. Just want to start the way I mean to go on now and clear things up. I shall try your suggestion Thank you
  • Robin9Robin9 Forumite
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    I would put these errors of SW into writing as a formal complaint and request that they put the account into dispute while they investigate and that they bill you for 22/23 only.
    Never pay on an estimated bill
  • Merlin139Merlin139 Forumite
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    As you are on a meter their system will be able to tell when you had a leak with your water. We had a toilet cistern that was constantly running but we did not notice it for a couple of months. I worked it out that we were losing about 5 liters an hour. I fixed it and thought nothing of it after that.
     
    About 2 months later I contacted Yorkshire Water about my bill and the lady I spoke too mentioned that she could see that we had fixed our problem. She said that they can see when water is running 24/7 on their system when they look at the flow rate on the account. Guess the meter holds information of how much and when its used.
    She looked into it and in the end they reduced my consumption by 8 Cubic Metres which represented what I had lost in the 2 months. 

    They will be able to confirm exactly how much the leek has cost you. My guess is that its more then £100 that they have offered you.

    Make a formal complaint to Southern Water about the way your account has been handled. Also state that you dispute the total of your account.

    As a way forward if you can read your water meter once a month along with Gas and Electric and keep a record of the readings it will go a long way towards avoiding big unexpected bills.
      
    3.975 kWp PV SolarEdge System Facing 200 Degrees 10% Shading Installed 21 May 2014 Located in Mid East Yorkshire.
  • CardewCardew Forumite
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    Merlin139 said:
    As you are on a meter their system will be able to tell when you had a leak with your water. We had a toilet cistern that was constantly running but we did not notice it for a couple of months. I worked it out that we were losing about 5 liters an hour. I fixed it and thought nothing of it after that.
     
    About 2 months later I contacted Yorkshire Water about my bill and the lady I spoke too mentioned that she could see that we had fixed our problem. She said that they can see when water is running 24/7 on their system when they look at the flow rate on the account. Guess the meter holds information of how much and when its used.
    She looked into it and in the end they reduced my consumption by 8 Cubic Metres which represented what I had lost in the 2 months. 

    They will be able to confirm exactly how much the leek has cost you. My guess is that its more then £100 that they have offered you.

    Make a formal complaint to Southern Water about the way your account has been handled. Also state that you dispute the total of your account.

    As a way forward if you can read your water meter once a month along with Gas and Electric and keep a record of the readings it will go a long way towards avoiding big unexpected bills.
      
    You must be one of the very few people in the country to have a 'proper' smart meter capable of 'real time' monitoring of consumption and, almost unbelievably a water company bothering with such tiny amounts of leakage - most can hardly tell when there is a serious leak..

    The few 'smart meters' fitted in most areas are like mine i.e. the meter reader can walk by outside the house and interogate the meter; this he does every 6 months.

  • Merlin139Merlin139 Forumite
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    Cardew said:
    Merlin139 said:
    As you are on a meter their system will be able to tell when you had a leak with your water. We had a toilet cistern that was constantly running but we did not notice it for a couple of months. I worked it out that we were losing about 5 liters an hour. I fixed it and thought nothing of it after that.
     
    About 2 months later I contacted Yorkshire Water about my bill and the lady I spoke too mentioned that she could see that we had fixed our problem. She said that they can see when water is running 24/7 on their system when they look at the flow rate on the account. Guess the meter holds information of how much and when its used.
    She looked into it and in the end they reduced my consumption by 8 Cubic Metres which represented what I had lost in the 2 months. 

    They will be able to confirm exactly how much the leek has cost you. My guess is that its more then £100 that they have offered you.

    Make a formal complaint to Southern Water about the way your account has been handled. Also state that you dispute the total of your account.

    As a way forward if you can read your water meter once a month along with Gas and Electric and keep a record of the readings it will go a long way towards avoiding big unexpected bills.
      
    You must be one of the very few people in the country to have a 'proper' smart meter capable of 'real time' monitoring of consumption and, almost unbelievably a water company bothering with such tiny amounts of leakage - most can hardly tell when there is a serious leak..

    The few 'smart meters' fitted in most areas are like mine i.e. the meter reader can walk by outside the house and interogate the meter; this he does every 6 months.

    My meter had been interrogated by the Yorkshire Water reader and like you they walk pass the house and hold something over the meter. They don't need to lift up the cover.  
    3.975 kWp PV SolarEdge System Facing 200 Degrees 10% Shading Installed 21 May 2014 Located in Mid East Yorkshire.
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